Category Archives: Things to Do in Las Vegas

Commissary Restaurant at Downtown Grand Closes, Converts to eSports Lounge

The long-struggling Commissary After Dark restaurant at the Downtown Grand resort has closed.

The space is still being used, however. The restaurant’s tables and chairs have been removed, and now the space has been reconfigured as the Downtown Underground eSports Lounge.

Commissary

Out with the underperforming restaurant, in with the millennials playing first person shooters.

The eSports lounge could once be found in the former high limit slot room in the casino at Downtown Grand.

Moving the eSports lounge across the street makes some sense given the fact eSports tends to draw a younger crowd, but only those 21 and older can be in a casino. The move to the former Commissary space means another, even younger, crop of video game competitors and enthusiasts can join in the fun.

The Downtown Underground eSports Lounge hosts events and tournaments Fridays and Saturdays, 4:00 p.m. to midnight.

Downtown Underground eSports

For better or worse, everybody in Vegas is jumping on the eSports bandwagon, but Downtown Grand was way ahead of the pack.

You can stay abreast of all things eSports at Downtown Grand on the official Facebook page of the Downtown Underground eSports Lounge.

Downtown Grand had big plans for Commissary After Dark when it opened, including using the space as a nightlife venue. In recent months, the restaurant had been reduced to serving coffee and snacks for a few hours each morning.

There are tons of great dining options in the immediate vicinity of the closed Commissary, including Freedom Beat inside Downtown Grand, the reliably excellent Triple George Grill and the incomparable, must-try Pizza Rock.

Who knows if eSports is going to be a thing for Las Vegas casinos. If it is, though, now it has a new place to be it. A thing, that is. Please try and keep up.

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Circus Circus Expands Pool Complex, Including 50-Foot Waterslide

Circus Circus has begun an expansion of its pool complex, including the addition of what professionals in the waterpark industry call a “big-ass waterslide.”

Circus Circus pool expansion

Do not let your kids see this or they will badger you about it for the rest of your life.

The towering, 50-foot waterslide will give guests three distinct experiences. There’s a “speed slide,” an “aqua tube” and a four-lane “mat racer.”

Here’s a closer look at the slide and its various parts.

Circus Circus waterslide

1. Aqua tube. 2. Mat racer. 3. Speed slide. Take care to not hit your head on the numbers on the way down.

The slide is just the beginning of the Circus Circus pool expansion, however.

There will also be a “Splash Pad” area, including water features like water cannons, “splash falls” and “tilting buckets,” whatever those might actually be.

The expansion will also have shade structures, lounge chairs, cabanas and personalized lockers.

The pool will also have its own food truck. With food. Please try and keep up.

Circus Circus waterslide

The pool expansion abuts the current pool area at Circus Circus. Again, don’t let your child learn the word “abuts” or expect to hear it approximately 47 million times.

The pool’s existing snack bar will be refurbished, and new showers and restrooms will be added to the pool complex.

Circus Circus pool expansion

Restrooms, lockers, showers. Who knows? We are a blog, not a building psychic.

A highlight of the Circus Circus pool expansion will be an area reserved for guests 18 and older. Because hallelujah.

A news release about the pool expansion said the project will be completed in the second quarter of 2017. In terms human beings use, that’s June 2017.

Circus Circus pools

Despite the lack of diving boards, the pool complex at Circus Circus is surprisingly well-maintained and welcoming. Thanks a lot, lawyers.

There’s one caveat about the expanded pool at Circus Circus. It will be available only to hotel guests.

We’ve enjoyed our stays at this underrated Las Vegas resort, and there’s a lot to love about Circus Circus, including the fact parking remains free.

Here are a photo gallery of the new waterslide at Circus Circus, mainly because it’s much too late in the game for us to get a life at this point.

Circus Circus Pool Expansion

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Vegas Golden Knights Practice Facility Takes Shape

While our appreciation of sports may be virtually imperceptible, our passion for drones is boundless, so here’s a look at the new practice facility for the Vegas Golden Knights.

It’s a hockey team.

Hockey is the game with the ice and the sticks. Please try and keep up.

Vegas Golden Knights practice facility

The Vegas Golden Knights training facility is approximately 40 seconds from a casino. What could possibly go wrong?

The $30 million, 146,000-square-foot facility is being built in Summerlin, near the Red Rock Casino, about 15 minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip.

The shiny new facility is expected to open in August 2017, and will boast a slew of amenities.

There will be a players lounge with couches, video games and flat screen TVs. There will also be a team locker room, as well as 10 public locker rooms. The player locker room will have not only showers, but also a sauna and steam room.

An adjoining massage room will have a full-time team masseuse, of course. They’re hockey players, not savages.

Here’s a look at the new Vegas Golden Knights practice facility from overheadward, which we’re fairly sure isn’t an actual word.

The Vegas Golden Knights practice facility will have not one, but two, full-size hockey rinks.

Above the rinks will be a 9,000-square-foot restaurant and bar. Suddenly, we’re just the slightest bit more interested in sports.

The venue will have a second floor with 20,000-square-feet of office space and what’s billed as the largest gym of any NHL practice facility in the country.

Vegas Golden Knights training facility

If you didn’t think the first pro sports team in Las Vegas was going to get a big-ass training facility, you don’t know Las Vegas.

Practices will be open to the public, and we look forward to seeing what $30 million can buy, puckwise.

The Vegas Golden Knights are scheduled to make their NHL debut during the 2017–18 NHL season.

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Neon Museum Receives Big-Ass Grant, Begins Demolition for Expansion

One of the best attractions in Las Vegas, the Neon Museum, has received a $425,000 grant for a major expansion.

With some additional cash in its coffers from the city of Las Vegas, the Neon Museum has acquired an adjoining .27-acre parcel, and demolition of the existing structure is under way.

Neon Museum expansion

Adios, gross building next to the Neon Museum’s awesome visitor center that also happens to have been the lobby of the historic La Concha Motel.

Demolition crews should make quick work of the building, the former L.A. Street Market, just south of the Neon Museum.

Here’s a better look at the whole shebang, a term we’re fairly sure hasn’t been used since 1961.

This is the first major expansion of the Neon Museum since it opened in 2012.

The expansion will allow the Neon Museum to display an additional 30-40 signs, currently in storage. The improvements will also include an open-air exhibit and events space. The Neon Museum expansion will be designed by SH Architecture.

Neon Museum expansion

Hey, architectural rendering dude, don’t leave a lovely lady on a bench all by her lonesome. Not cool.

The expansion will feature a covered patio canopied by a solar-paneled shade structure. Why one would need to power a shade structure, we have no idea. Then again we are a blog, not an architectural firm.

And let’s just say some of the signs in storage a fairly epic.

We captured this photo in an off-site storage area and it shows a huge section of one of the coolest Las Vegas casinos, ever, the Stardust. Yes, yes, there’s already a Stardust sign on display at the Neon Museum, but you can never have too many Googie stars.

Neon Museum storage

We told the folks at the Neon Museum we wouldn’t give away the location of this storage area, so this is all you’re getting.

Signs expected to make the migration from storage to public viewing are from the Las Vegas Club, Spearmint Rhino, Longhorn Casino, Sahara Saloon, Opera House Saloon and Riviera.

The Neon Museum is a nonprofit endeavor with more than 500 signs on display. The organization is dedicated to collecting and preserving iconic Las Vegas signs. And they occasionally let one slide that’s not particularly iconic. We’re looking at you, Spearmint Rhino sign.

As a nonprofit, the Neon Museum is often strapped for funding, so kudos to the City of Las Vegas for seeing the value of this invaluable treasure trove of Las Vegas history. Learn more about this must-do Las Vegas attraction.

The Neon Museum is expected to unveil it’s new space later this year, but it’s well worth visiting in the meantime.

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Lit eSports Arena Opens at Downtown’s Neonopolis

We should probably say it right up front: It might be called “eSports,” but it’s not sports. In sports, there’s activity involved.

ESports, on the other hand, is competitive gaming, featuring things like sitting, the polar opposite of sports. In this context, by the way, when we say “gaming,” we’re not talking about the casino kind (gambling), we’re talking about the millennial kind, involving videogames like Halo, League of Legends, Counter-Strike and others.

Now that we’ve provided some context, a new eSports arena has opened in downtown Las Vegas at the Neonopolis shopping complex. Let’s blast something to smitereens.

eSports Arena Las Vegas

Note: Millennials don’t use the term “smithereens.”

The eSports arena is called, wait for it, “thE Arena.” We are not kidding. In the news release for the arena (which we are fully committed to never calling “thE Arena” again), says, “The ‘E’ stands for eSports, the ‘A’ stands for ‘arena.'”

Which is adorable, you have to admit.

The 15,000-square-foot facility, in a part of Neonopolis formerly occupied by movie theaters, officially opened March 3, 2017. The arena hosted a three-day Halo tournament to launch the new venue.

The eSports arena consists of two spaces. One area is a 200-seat arena that looks a lot like a movie theater, but with a dozen screens of varying sizes rather than one large screen.

eSports Arena Las Vegas

It’s fun watching other people have fun, isn’t it? Just like porn, but with controllers.

The other area is the Main Hall, which can accommodate 900 people.

That area (pictured below) can hold up to 15 “player stations,” with each of those having space for 14 players.

eSports arena Neonopolis

The percentage of females taking part in eSports has skyrocketed in recent years. Specifically, to about 2%.

The facility boasts an Internet speed of a gigabit, whatever that might actually be.

Approximately three miles of CAT cables were required to make the venue tournament-ready. From what we can tell, “CAT” stands for “Category 5.” Some people capitalize “CAT” to make it sound more important. Let’s just say it’s an Ethernet thing, and that’s a lot of cable.

The eSports arena at Neonopolis is impressive and was bustling with activity during our visit. There’s already evidence eSports can draw big numbers of people to a venue. Thousands of people, for example, filled the Mandalay Bay Events Center in 2016 for the North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Finals.

eSports arena Las Vegas

Like we weren’t going to point out the fact we used “lit” in our headline ironically. Related: Get off our lawn.

Just about everyone in Las Vegas is hot to attract millennials, especially casinos, despite the fact millennials don’t seem all that into gambling.

For a long-struggling venue like Neonopolis, having large numbers of people in the building can presumably only help. A likely beneficiary of the new foot traffic, the Fremont Arcade, hasn’t seen any lift in business, but we did see a small group of gamers dining at Denny’s. From what we could tell, each ordered a glass of ice water, so there’s that.

Others brought their own water.

ESports millennials

Please join us in perpetuating a millennial stereotype, thanks.

We’re a big fan of new Las Vegas things, so we look forward to seeing the eSports arena flourish. Given the fact the Halo World Championship finals have a $1 million prize pool, we’re also excited to learn more about “containment protocol,” “orbital bombardments” and “Plasma Frag Rockets.”

Because while we may not personally get eSports, we are a huge fan of prize pools. In fact, if Megabucks isn’t careful, it might end up getting smithereened.

ESports Arena at Neonopolis

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Plaza Casino Gets Second Eye-Popping Mural

Downtown’s Plaza Hotel has yet another massive mural adorning its hotel tower, and this time the art veers toward the ominous.

We recently wrote about the Plaza’s first larger-than-life mural, Cultivate Harmony, by Shepard Fairey. The hotel’s second mural is by Dean Stockton, also known as D*Face.

Plaza mural Las Vegas

The new mural is reminiscent of the work of Roy Lichtenstein. We knew this liberal arts degree would come in handy someday.

The latest mural, “Behind Closed Doors,” has a bit of a story behind it. The image is apparently that of a woman who came to Las Vegas with her husband and her lover. She murdered her husband, leaving him in the desert. When she comes back to her room expecting to find her lover, she’s haunted by her dead husband instead. Read more.

While massive, “Behind Closed Doors” can be tricky to see from ground level. (It’s on the south side of the Plaza’s hotel tower.) One of the best views is from the hotel’s pool deck, complete with 16 pickleball courts, but we’ve got an even better one. We couldn’t resist. We love pop art.

The two Plaza murals join dozens of others throughout downtown Las Vegas, mainly thanks to the Life is Beautiful music festival.

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